Sunday, 16 January 2011 10:55
titleSometime this week, the Mystery Writers of America will announce the nominees for its annual Edgar Awards, which, anyone who follows the genre knows are the Oscars of the mystery world.
But a couple of months ago, it was announced that Sara Paretsky has been named the 2011 Grand Master, a wonderful addition MWA's long list of worthy Grand Masters.

According to the MWA release, the "Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality."

I would agree with that.
Paretsky revolutionalized the mystery world in 1982 when she introduced detective V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only. A woman private detective? It seemed like heresy when, during the span of two years, Paretsky, Sue Grafton and Marica Mueller all brought in strong women detectives.

V.I. Warshawski, like the other women detectives used her wits and she challenged a genre in which women typically were either vamps or victims.
altThe rest is history. Or in the case of Paretsky, 16 novels, several short story anthologies and a book of essays. Her latest novel is Body Work.

Paretsky and the other mystery writers opened the door to mysteries as we know them today -- a divserse genre full of diverse detectives from different ethic and sexual backgrounds, myriad regions and foreign countries. I doubt we would have gay detectives today if Paretsky and crew hadn't shown readers that fighting for justice isn't just for white men.
I would say she also helped usher in the regional mystery. Her view of Chicago was spot-on. I was talking with my brother-in-law, Thomas, just last night about Paretsky. He and his wife, Lee, lived in Chicago and he also believed that Paretsky nailed the city. One of my closest friends, Toni, lives in Chicago and it's a city I love. Paretsky's novels are mini travelogues of The Windy City.
By the way, Paretsky was profiled in Mystery Scene, Holiday Issue 2009, No. 112.

I started reading mysteries when I was about 9 years old but there was a time when the genre wasn't speaking to me. Sara, Sue and Marcia are among the reasons I came back to mystieres and why I love the genre and why I began reviewing mysteries.
So next time I slam someone's novel, you can blame them.
I had the pleasure of having Sara on a panel during the most recent Bouchercon in San Francisco. It was unclear up until the moment she walked into the room if Sara would make it. She had an event that morning in Idaho and, well, you know how lovely and reliable airline travel is.
At the last minute she was able to make it and she added so much to the panel.


Sara Paretsky will receive her award at The Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 28.

As soon as the nominees for this year's Edgars are announced, we'll post them, too.

Sara Paretsky Mwa Grand Master
Oline Cogdill
sara-paretsky-mwa-grand-master
titleSometime this week, the Mystery Writers of America will announce the nominees for its annual Edgar Awards, which, anyone who follows the genre knows are the Oscars of the mystery world.
But a couple of months ago, it was announced that Sara Paretsky has been named the 2011 Grand Master, a wonderful addition MWA's long list of worthy Grand Masters.

According to the MWA release, the "Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality."

I would agree with that.
Paretsky revolutionalized the mystery world in 1982 when she introduced detective V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only. A woman private detective? It seemed like heresy when, during the span of two years, Paretsky, Sue Grafton and Marica Mueller all brought in strong women detectives.

V.I. Warshawski, like the other women detectives used her wits and she challenged a genre in which women typically were either vamps or victims.
altThe rest is history. Or in the case of Paretsky, 16 novels, several short story anthologies and a book of essays. Her latest novel is Body Work.

Paretsky and the other mystery writers opened the door to mysteries as we know them today -- a divserse genre full of diverse detectives from different ethic and sexual backgrounds, myriad regions and foreign countries. I doubt we would have gay detectives today if Paretsky and crew hadn't shown readers that fighting for justice isn't just for white men.
I would say she also helped usher in the regional mystery. Her view of Chicago was spot-on. I was talking with my brother-in-law, Thomas, just last night about Paretsky. He and his wife, Lee, lived in Chicago and he also believed that Paretsky nailed the city. One of my closest friends, Toni, lives in Chicago and it's a city I love. Paretsky's novels are mini travelogues of The Windy City.
By the way, Paretsky was profiled in Mystery Scene, Holiday Issue 2009, No. 112.

I started reading mysteries when I was about 9 years old but there was a time when the genre wasn't speaking to me. Sara, Sue and Marcia are among the reasons I came back to mystieres and why I love the genre and why I began reviewing mysteries.
So next time I slam someone's novel, you can blame them.
I had the pleasure of having Sara on a panel during the most recent Bouchercon in San Francisco. It was unclear up until the moment she walked into the room if Sara would make it. She had an event that morning in Idaho and, well, you know how lovely and reliable airline travel is.
At the last minute she was able to make it and she added so much to the panel.


Sara Paretsky will receive her award at The Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 28.

As soon as the nominees for this year's Edgars are announced, we'll post them, too.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011 10:04
It was hard to miss Ruth Cavin, the long-time crime fiction editor for St. Martin's Press, at mystery fiction conferences.

Tall, graceful and usually wearing sneakers, Cavin often was surrounded by a cadre of much younger editors, publicists and authors.
And with good reason.
Cavin, who died Jan. 9 at age 92, really was a legend in her own time.

She was one of those responsible for the Minotaur Books imprint that launched myriad authors.
Cavin was one of those editors who took great pleasure in new writers. The list of authors who came under her direction is endless. My colleague Sarah Weinman has a nice tribute to Calvin. Mike Shatzkin offers a lovely, personal tribute to Calvin, who he had known all his life.

I agree with everything these two said, and can add nothing more.

Cavin was a force of nature. The energy she exhibited put those decades younger to shame.

Cavin leaves a wonderful legacy for the mystery genre. Rest in peace.
Ruth Cavin, Crime Fiction Editor for St. Martin's Press
Oline Cogdill
ruth-cavin-crime-fiction-editor-for-st-martins-press
It was hard to miss Ruth Cavin, the long-time crime fiction editor for St. Martin's Press, at mystery fiction conferences.

Tall, graceful and usually wearing sneakers, Cavin often was surrounded by a cadre of much younger editors, publicists and authors.
And with good reason.
Cavin, who died Jan. 9 at age 92, really was a legend in her own time.

She was one of those responsible for the Minotaur Books imprint that launched myriad authors.
Cavin was one of those editors who took great pleasure in new writers. The list of authors who came under her direction is endless. My colleague Sarah Weinman has a nice tribute to Calvin. Mike Shatzkin offers a lovely, personal tribute to Calvin, who he had known all his life.

I agree with everything these two said, and can add nothing more.

Cavin was a force of nature. The energy she exhibited put those decades younger to shame.

Cavin leaves a wonderful legacy for the mystery genre. Rest in peace.
Sunday, 09 January 2011 10:48
altA couple of years ago, my husband got me for Christmas the complete season of Honey West on DVD. It just shows you how well he knows me.

Honey West , for those who don't know, was the first "girl" detective series on TV. It wasn't a huge success, lasting one 1965-1966 on ABC. But for some kids of that time, especially girls, who had never seen a woman run her own business, use her head and even get into fights, it was a momumental series.

So the passing of actress Anne Francis last week at age 80 following a battle with cancer needs to be honored.

Francis was the "private eye-full" Honey West, complete with tear gas earrings, lipstick radio transmitters, a black garter tear gas mask (what every woman needs) and other cool gadgets that had, until then, been reserved just for boys like James Bond.

She got all the great toys and a pet ocelot named Bruce.
Oh, how I wanted an ocelot. (Although Bruce looked great on camera, apparently he was quite a wild little beast and not the charming pet he played.)

Honey also had to put up with a lot of sexism like that "private eye-full" comment. In running her late father's Los Angeles detective agency, she also had to work with the firm's former junior partner, Sam Bolt, played by John Ericson. While Sam was, admittedly, quite good looking and obviously in love with Honey, he also was dumber than a box of bricks. Not as dumb as Sheena's Bob (she was another childhood hero), but Sam would never be mistaken for a Ph.D. candidate. Sam also thought it his duty to try to boss Honey around. Silly man.

Honey West was created during the 1950s by Skip and Gloria Fickling for a pulp fiction series. But the TV version was a bit tamer, more sophisticated and very glamourous. Who cared how thin the plots were as long as Francis got to change her clothes at least three times an episode?

So does this very dated TV series hold up? Yes, and no.

Francis is obviously having a lot of fun with the character and she is fun to watch. The scripts are so-so. The gadgets are cool, but not very sophisticated looking. It's more the idea of these items than what we actually would see in a Bond movie. And the martial arts that Honey West supposedly knows are quite awkward and phony. It wouldn't be until 1966 when America got a glimpse of a real kick-ass woman who made fight scenes seem real in the form of Diana Rigg's Emma Peel on The Avengers.

Flawed, of course. But I wouldn't part with my Honey West DVD.
Anne Francis, may you rest in peace.
Honey West Lives On
Oline Cogdill
honey-west-lives-on
altA couple of years ago, my husband got me for Christmas the complete season of Honey West on DVD. It just shows you how well he knows me.

Honey West , for those who don't know, was the first "girl" detective series on TV. It wasn't a huge success, lasting one 1965-1966 on ABC. But for some kids of that time, especially girls, who had never seen a woman run her own business, use her head and even get into fights, it was a momumental series.

So the passing of actress Anne Francis last week at age 80 following a battle with cancer needs to be honored.

Francis was the "private eye-full" Honey West, complete with tear gas earrings, lipstick radio transmitters, a black garter tear gas mask (what every woman needs) and other cool gadgets that had, until then, been reserved just for boys like James Bond.

She got all the great toys and a pet ocelot named Bruce.
Oh, how I wanted an ocelot. (Although Bruce looked great on camera, apparently he was quite a wild little beast and not the charming pet he played.)

Honey also had to put up with a lot of sexism like that "private eye-full" comment. In running her late father's Los Angeles detective agency, she also had to work with the firm's former junior partner, Sam Bolt, played by John Ericson. While Sam was, admittedly, quite good looking and obviously in love with Honey, he also was dumber than a box of bricks. Not as dumb as Sheena's Bob (she was another childhood hero), but Sam would never be mistaken for a Ph.D. candidate. Sam also thought it his duty to try to boss Honey around. Silly man.

Honey West was created during the 1950s by Skip and Gloria Fickling for a pulp fiction series. But the TV version was a bit tamer, more sophisticated and very glamourous. Who cared how thin the plots were as long as Francis got to change her clothes at least three times an episode?

So does this very dated TV series hold up? Yes, and no.

Francis is obviously having a lot of fun with the character and she is fun to watch. The scripts are so-so. The gadgets are cool, but not very sophisticated looking. It's more the idea of these items than what we actually would see in a Bond movie. And the martial arts that Honey West supposedly knows are quite awkward and phony. It wouldn't be until 1966 when America got a glimpse of a real kick-ass woman who made fight scenes seem real in the form of Diana Rigg's Emma Peel on The Avengers.

Flawed, of course. But I wouldn't part with my Honey West DVD.
Anne Francis, may you rest in peace.